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NO WE TAN'T

The sartorial shenanigans of the State of the Union

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, gloves, hug, state of the union, SOTU, obama
Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool
Best accessories: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
By Jenni Avins
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The White House set the table for President Obama’s sixth State of the Union address on Tuesday with a solid, well-timed tweet:

While it’s pretty unthinkable that a professional, grown-up man in the northern hemisphere would wear a tan suit after dark in January, the White House drummed up a great deal of anticipation and attention. It was a deft display of internet trolling before the president took the podium—in a navy suit.

AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool
Relax, everybody.

Biden and Boehner—effectively Obama’s backup dancers for an hour of largely uneventful television—wore ties that coordinated nicely with one another, and with the president. Apparently, purple ties symbolize bi-partisanship. Boehner’s had the added on-camera benefit of a sort of throbbing ultra-violet shade that slightly recalled the lights of a tanning bed.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Once we had established the absence of tan suits, our focus shifted to the first lady, in a zippered salt-and-pepper tweed suit by Michael Kors.

Reuters/Larry Downing
Thank you. Thank you.

Unlike the version that debuted on Kors’ runway last February, the first lady’s suit skipped the waist-cinching belt and a zipper that opened a thigh-high skirt slit, giving critics little to talk about. Kors also showed this with Sophia Loren-style eyeliner and a choker chain necklace, so the customization and styling showed a little imagination on the part of FLOTUS’ stylist. Then again, maybe she saw it on The Good Wife.

The suit is already sold out at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, but if you are small and motivated, there may still be a size 2 on eBay.

Jill Biden looked reliably adorable and luncheon-ready in a kelly green dress embellished with what appeared to be some black marabou poufs, but there’s not too much to say about that, so we’ll move onto the floor.

Pink isn’t a color we see a lot of in DC, so a cluster of several wearers did catch the eye: Hey, did you guys plan this? It turns out they did. Several congresswomen wore pink and tweeted about it to celebrate the presence of more than one hundred women in congress, and to encourage voters to elect more.

It’s really hard to see anyone’s shoes when watching the State of the Union on television. Iowa senator Joni Ernst’s team apparently sidestepped this by sharing a photo of her heels with the media in advance of her rebuttal following president Obama’s address.

At first the shoes—low-heeled, square-toed, camouflage-patterned, and begging for further explanation—appeared a mere nod to Ernst’s status as the first female combat veteran to serve in the senate. But her speech revealed a far deeper relationship with her footwear:

You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry. But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.

So now you know, bread bags are big in Iowa—though some say Ernst was doing it wrong. While she wasn’t wearing bread bags last night, those camo pumps may have been benefited from some.

Ladies of a certain age have recently captivated the fashion community’s imagination, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could be a poster girl for the movement. Topping her robes with her signature tautly pulled hair, coral earrings, and a regal blue statement collar, Ginsburg looked smart, sassy, and comfortable enough to doze off during the proceedings (which she did not, Jezebel notes). But with her dainty fishnet gloves, it’s safe to say RBG dropped the mic on SOTU style.

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